Skip to main content

You ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes.
                                                      -Mother Jones

Wednesday January 20, 1904
From The Indianapolis News: Report from the Convention of the United Mine Workers

John Mitchell
John Mitchell, President
United Mine Workers of America
The Annual Convention of the United Mine Workers of America was called to order in Indianapolis by President John Mitchell on Monday. The entire text of the speech given by President Mitchell was published by the News along with this summary:

President John Mitchell this afternoon [Jan. 18th] delivered his annual report or message to the fifteenth annual convention of the United Mine Workers of America.

He made no reference to the question of advance or reduction in the present scale. He urged that the Indiana, Ohio and western Pennsylvania operators adopt the run-of-mine basis, as practically all other operators have adopted it.

He urged the scale committee to work for more nearly-equalizing differentials between pick and machine mining.

He advocated the abolition of present method of collecting per capita tax and substitution of the stamp system.

He laid before the convention an invitation to American miners to send representatives to the international mining conference in Paris in May, and said that representation should be limited to two delegates.

He condemned, in most vigorous terms, the employment of children in the mines and urged legislation barring boys under sixteen years.

He reviewed the strikes in six States, where approximately 14,000 miners are out at present.

He called attention to the fact that the organization of the United Mine Workers of America is now the largest and strongest single trades union that the world has ever known, asserting that if all per capita tax should be reported the total paid-up membership would be approximately 340,000. Under the present system only 287,000 are properly credited in good standing.

He gave a review of the successful work of the new organization department, in charge of Vice-President T. L. Lewis, and the effective work of the staff of organizers. The work and growth in different States was covered, together with the questions that have arisen concerning jurisdiction and the ruling of the A. F. of L. giving the U. M. W. of A. jurisdiction over all trades represented at the mines.

He urged support of the union label.

He advised that the miners bring pressure to bear that will cause the passage of the anti-injunction and the eight-hour day bills, now awaiting the vote of the United States Senate.

He commented on the peace that has prevailed during the year and on the better feeling existing among miners and operators in the anthracite and the bituminous districts.

[emphasis added]

We also found this portion of President Mitchell's speech to be illuminating:
In order that you may have concise and accurate information concerning our growth and membership during the last six year, I herewith submit a tabulated statement showing the average and also the aggregate membership for each year since I have been officially connected with the national organization.
These figures were given for the average yearly paid-up membership:

Mitchel further explained:

These figures do not include any of our members who may be idle or on strike and thus exonerated from the payment of dues.

You will, of course, understand that the decrease in membership reported for the year 1902 is accounted for by the fact that the anthracite mine workers were on strike for five months of that year and were, therefore, not required to pay dues.

During the year 512 new local unions were organized, 27 reorganized and 173 surrendered their charters, leaving a net gain of 366. We now have 22 organized districts and a total of 2,322 local unions paid up and in good standing.

While our growth in membership has been very gratifying, I nevertheless consider it my duty to again call attention to the fact that no inconsiderable number of our local unions fail or refuse to report capitation tax to the national and district offices upon the full number of members paying to them. I have no hesitancy in saying that if every local union would report upon its full membership there would be not less than 340,000 members in good standing in our national organization.

The Indianapolis News
(Indianapolis, Indiana)
-of Jan 18, 1904

Note: since I tend to be critical of John Mitchell for his membership in the National Civic Federation, and also because Hellraisers Journal will very strongly side with Mother Jones in her coming break with Mitchell, I feel that it is only fair to give him much of the credit for the phenomenal growth of the UMWA under his leadership. Of course, we must also remember that Mother Jones was a leader among the UMWA Organizers during this period of phenomenal growth, and that the Organizers were the ones who were facing the gravest of dangers out in the field, on the front lines with the miners and their families.


Monday January 20, 2014
More on Mother Jones and the dangerous job of organizing for the UMWA:

                                                                        St. Charles Hotel, Scranton, Pa.
                                                                         May 10, 1902
Mother Mary Jones,
Montgomery, W. Va.
Dear Mother:
     Your favor dated May 6th is received at Scranton...
     I am glad to note the progress that is being made, and I wish things were so that you could leave that field and give the boys a hand either in the Fairmont [field] or on the Norfolk & Western. I think the Fairmont would be the place in which you could do the most good, as the coal companies up there have evidently scared our boys, and of course, with good reason, as they have brutally beaten some of them. I dislike to ask you always to take the dangerous fields, but I know that your are willing to go wherever you can perform the best service; however, remain where you are for the time being...
     I think, Mother, that it would be advisable for you not to exert yourself as much as you are doing, and you should take a rest now and then, so as to recuperate your strength. We cannot expect to do all the work ourselves, or see it done even in our lives, and I hope that you will not destroy your health and usefulness in the labor movement by over exertion.
     With love and best wishes, I am,
                                                                                     Yours truly,
                                                                                     John Mitchell
                                                                                     President U. M. W. of A.

[emphasis added]

The Correspondence of Mother Jones
-ed by Edward M. Steel
U of Pittsburgh Press, 1985

1937-Dan Hall

And while we hold our brother's hand
The Worker will never loose.

                        -Dan Hall & David Norris

Dedicated to:
The officers, organizers, members and families of the
                United Mine Workers of America,
 who fought and died to build the mighty union which went on to
 lead and support (with their hard earned money) the great CIO organizing drives
 which led to the great victories of 1937.
These brave men, women and children laid the wide foundation
  upon which victory was achieved.

Originally posted to Hellraisers Journal on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 11:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Shamrock American Kossacks, In Support of Labor and Unions, Anti-Capitalist Chat, and History for Kossacks.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site